“Four short words sum up what has lifted most successful individuals above the crowd: a little bit more. They did all that was expected of them and a little bit more.” –A. Lou Vickery
In this fast paced world and society, the common sense seems to tell us that we should put the minimum amount of effort to get the maximum result possible. Very economical. And certainly, very practical.
I’m currently dealing with many HR issues at work, and the most recurring question that I ask myself is, how can I motivate my employees and colleagues to be motivated? And yet I realize that the essence of this issue is relevant beyond the context of HR. It basically asks: why should people do a little bit more than what is required?
We know that sometimes, it’s tempting to put just what is expected of us, nothing more, and nothing else. After all, if the barest minimum is enough… why should we invest extra time, energy, and effort in whatever we do?
But I want to challenge that today.
I want to suggest, that in order to truly live, we need to do a little bit more than what is expected of us. But why? Why should we do more than what is required when it is unnecessary, and rather impractical?
If for instance, we are measured by a series of checklists (e.g. key performance indicators) of do’s and don’ts in our offices and school… then why do we need to do something more?
I pondered on this topic for days, before coming to three very simple answers:
- Because we can. And because being alive, is a responsibility
By being alive, we are responsible for the gifts, talents, and abilities that are given to us. And most of all, we are responsible for the time that we have in our hands.
And we have the choice of going through the motions of doing the things that is expected of us and nothing more… or taking responsibility of the life that we have, and be a blessing for others.
- Because it stretches our capacity
And it takes courage to do this. Because it’s nice to do what we know we can. It’s secure. And it’s comfortable.
But doing beyond what is necessary means venturing into the unknown, without the certainty of being rewarded. I mean, what if we go through all that trouble, and nobody actually cares? What if we put extra effort and time, and it doesn’t seem to create any impacts?
Doing a little bit more takes practice. But most of all, it tests our limits, our patience, and our character.
Have courage, because there will be a time in our lives where we reminiscence and look back on life… and realized that yes, we have grown… because we dared to take that risk of doing a little bit more than what is expected.
- Because we reap what we sow
Some people call it karma. Other people call it the cycle of life. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the basic principle that governs nature: the principle of sowing and reaping.
It is the basic understanding that all farmers and gardeners know: you have to sow before you can reap a harvest. You have to plant if you want to have a fruit. And you have to relentlessly water it, day after day.
It doesn’t matter if there doesn’t seem to be anybody who keeps track of our “good deeds” and our “extra efforts”. Be relentless. Because we will never know when our efforts of doing a little bit more every day, will bloom into something greater than what we plan or imagine.
Be a little friendlier than what you are obliged to do. Smile a genuine smile that is a little wider than the polite mask that you are expected to wear.
Offer help when it’s not expected, because tiny acts of random kindness can make a difference in brightening up someone’s day.
Do a little bit more than what is expected.
Because it could make a world of a difference.
Image by SidorenkoOlga